J-Glory product shoot

I use curtains as props in my shoots and on few occasions they’ve been a part of my scene – indoor architecture, interior design shoots, etc. Like many photographers, I too use them often as backdrops for my portrait shoots. That apart, I’ve never actually shot curtains as a main subject matter. This summer, I was asked to do a product shoot involving curtains and pillow covers – part of a new line-up for J-Glory curtains, an online store based out of Switzerland. I gladly accepted the opportunity. Stephan and Ruth Meyer are a great couple. They own J-Glory business which is mainly managed by Ruth with Stephan providing necessary support. 
 I did quite some research on several online curtain stores. To portray their curtains, most of them use large living rooms, with polished interiors and other props such as sofas, tables, flower vases etc. Ruth wanted something different than the usual.

She wanted a bit of grungy and (sort of) antique looking environment to portray the curtains. She wanted us to shoot in an abandoned factory which had those grungy walls and really XXXXXXL sized windows! I found the idea to be extremely interesting and an intriguing one. In such an environment the curtains would stand out well and pop out at the viewer. Besides, it was indeed a different concept.




So on a sunny Saturday morning, we landed up at the factory. I surveyed the surroundings and we decided to choose one of the large windows as a backdrop.




Now one of the important aspects in online textile sales – be it curtains or clothing materials – is the colour integrity. The colours must look as real as possible. And for the first time I put to use my X-Rite ColorChecker card. X-Rite is famous for their colour calibration devices and reference patches. Recall Pantone colour patches for painting your homes? Yeah, these are from X-Rite. I shot an image with the colour checker card held in front of the curtains to use this as a reference for colour correction, later during the post processing. I would do this every time the ambient light changed. The white balance was manually set to around 5300K for all the shots, so that during post, I can use the colour checker card and compensate.


The curtains were hung on a rod supported by two tall light stands on either side. Before each shot Stephan would ensure that the folds in the curtains showed well by moving his hands through the material from top to bottom. He’s one tall, 7-foot something guy; heck he’s taller than fully extended light stands!
One of Ruth’s concerns was that the curtains should show-off its translucence – the ‘see-through’ aspect of the curtains. By partially placing the curtains against the window light, we could achieve this.

 

The shoot went on for about 5 hours and we shot some 40 odd curtains with different colour combinations. It was a busy small area with curtains being ironed on the side before we hung them up. Although a tad hectic, it was a total fun time.
Once the shoot was done, our hungry stomachs searched for restaurants nearby. Ruth knew the town like the back of her hand and we went to an Italian restaurant nearby for some warm food.
Check out J-Glory website guys ( http://www.j-glory.ch/ ) – they practice fair trade and get their unique beautiful collection made in Cambodia. This also offers employment opportunities to their partners in Combodia which was one of Ruth’s primary motivations to establish J-Glory.
Finally I welcome you to leave your thoughts/comments/questions in the comments section below.

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Surreal Woods

On a mild overcast day, I was walking in the nearby woods looking for any interesting macro subjects without much success. Then the trees in the woods drew my attention. The trees were tall and their trunks formed vertical parallel lines. As opposed to this, the thin short branches growing outwards from the trunks were more or less horizontal. I wanted to capture and show the perpendicular lines – verticals formed by the trunks and horizontals by their own branches. But there was one difficulty. The trunks were thick and tall whereas the branches were thin and short. If I were to emphasize on the tall trunks (choosing relatively wider focal lengths), the branches would look too insignificant and be lost in the frame. And viceversa was true if I were to zoom in and emphasize on smaller horizontal branches.

Many modern DSLR cameras have a feature called ‘mutliple exposure’. Multiple exposures are like super imposing two or more frames onto a single frame. Due to this super-imposing the end-result is often a bit surreal and blurry when the scenes/views are different. Just for some fun, I decided to try some in-camera multiple exposures. Multiple exposures also meant that I could shoot and different focal lengths on same frame! I mounted my 70-300mm lens and set the camera to multiple exposure mode (with number of exposures = 3). The first of the three exposures was shot at around 70 mm and the following two were exposed close to 200 mm (this throws the weight towards the longer focal lengths – i.e. telephoto range) – image #1.
Later on while post-processing, I decided to converted it to black & white.

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Image #1: One exposure zoomed out, super imposed (in-camera) with two exposures zoomed in

I also tried a few where the two of the three exposure were close to 70mm  range and one around 200mm – image #2

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Image #2: Two exposures when zoomed out, super imposed (in-camera) with one exposures when zoomed in

Twannbachschlucht Gorge

Many a time, overcast weather conditions can put off nature photographers including me, due to dull grey skies and uninteresting light. While that may be true when it comes to photographing vast landscapes, mountains, etc., I find it an ideal condition to photograph forests. During and post rain, the small streams amidst woods are full of water and most importantly, the leaves on trees and bushes display a lush green colour. The moss growing on tree trunks and rocks only add to the ambiance.

A couple of months back I chose a rainy day to take a walk in the woods nearby, to photograph a small stream that flows into a lake. It was drizzling now and then when I walked through the woods. The shiny, moist leaves were looking at their best , swaying gently with the wind. Another advantage of going out on a rainy day is that you will have the woods pretty much to yourself.

The large cloud cover acts as a mega-large softbox, diffusing the sun evenly across the forest, thereby creating a beautiful soft spread of light. Not that the sun rays filtering through these beautiful trees are unwelcome, it is just that the overcast conditions too can offer some interesting possibilities to make images.

This small waterfall is in Twannbachschlucht – a small gorge in canton Biel, west Switzerland.

Photographing small subjects in nature such as insects, small flowers, snails, etc., is something that I love. Mushrooms are surely one of them. Late summer/autumn in Switzerland is mushroom season. The smell of wet wood and decaying leaves on forest floor mean one thing – time to go looking for mushrooms. Mushroom picking is a popular activity among the locals. For me, mushrooms are beautiful little subjects to photograph. These mushrooms were not so small though – measuring about palm size approximately.

Finally a monotone take on the forest…

Keywords: twannbachschlucht, waterfalls, woods, stream, switzerland, biel, forest